- Associated Press - Saturday, October 8, 2011

CARDIFF, WALES (AP) - Three generations of Michael Jackson’s family _ with a few notable absentees _ joined an eclectic roster of entertainers Saturday to pay tribute to the King of Pop, a celebration of the late star’s life overshadowed by the Los Angeles manslaughter trial of his doctor.

Several Jacksons were due onstage for the “Michael Forever” show at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, alongside Christina Aguilera, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Leona Lewis, British boyband JLS, Cee Lo Green _ and, via video, Beyonce.

The concert has divided the King of Pop’s family and followers. Brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie _ three of the original Jackson 5 _ and sister La Toya are scheduled to perform, while the audience will include Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine and his children Prince, 14, Paris, 13, and 9-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., known as Blanket.

But brothers Jermaine and Randy and sister Janet have stayed away, saying it is wrong to hold the show at the same time as the manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.


Before the show, Marlon Jackson said he respected his siblings’ decision.

“Each one of us grieves differently,” he said. “We want to celebrate the positive side of his life, the positive things that he did.”

Jackson died in June 2009, at age 50, as he was preparing for a string of comeback concerts in London.

His last hours are being relived in graphic detail at the trial of Murray, accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion on June 25, 2009.

Some fans have said it’s inappropriate to hold the tribute show during the trial, but those who came to Cardiff said it was a fitting antidote to the grim courtroom spectacle.

“There’s a lot of negativity in that courtroom,” said Ronnie Lee, a 32-year-old truck driver from Pembroke, Wales, sporting a “Thriller” T-shirt. “This is a chance to say, ‘Thank you Michael’ and celebrate the music.”

Fans from across Europe gathered outside the stadium, where vendors did a brisk trade in King of Pop T-shirts and fedora hats like those once worn by Jackson.

“Whatever happens in that court, we’ll never get Michael back,” said Karin Kiewiet, 40, a local government worker from Emmen, Netherlands. “This is a good opportunity for us to begin grieving.”

The show has suffered teething problems, with producers struggling to line up top-name acts for the tribute, hosted by actor Jamie Foxx and British TV host Fearne Cotton.

The Black Eyed Peas pulled out of the lineup this week, citing “unavoidable circumstances” amid reports the chart-topping band is splitting up.

Organizer Chris Hunt said that despite the last-minute loss, fans could expect “a very, very spectacular show.”

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